Though bike riders get credit for not polluting the environment, they don’t get a lot of respect. The law says you should ride in the road, but drivers and even local police often force cyclists up on the sidewalks where they invariably terrorize pedestrians. Even worse, when you get to your destination you may end up spending as much time as a motorist finding a legal place to park your vehicle.
According to the Tokyo Metropolitan Government, 869,000 illegally parked or abandoned bicycles were “removed” in 2007. Of these about 510,000 were eventually reclaimed by owners with the rest being “processed,” which we assume means they were either destroyed or shipped off to North Korea, where, according to certain right-wing conspiracy theorists, they enjoy a second life as weapons parts.
Removing and processing bicycles obviously costs money, and since 60 percent of those seized are reclaimed, it seems equally obvious that local governments should make more of an effort to provide free parking to non-commuters who just want to visit a particular neighborhood for shopping or whatever. Chiyoda Ward seems to be doing that. In the past year or so the ward has set up 18 parking stations in popular areas where bicycle parking is free for up to two hours and then costs only ¥100 thereafter up to 24 hours. Akihabara has two.